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Morning Report: Khabib Nurmagomedov and Donald Cerrone engage in war of words

Esther Lin

What on Earth is going on?

No. 2-ranked contender Khabib Nurmagomedov is ostensibly fighting somebody sometime in the near future but no one knows who or when and the confusion has resulted in him trading verbal blows with Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone over Twitter.

On April 5th, Tony Ferguson announced he was injured and had to withdraw from his scheduled main event bout with Nurmagomedov set for April 16. In response, multiple fighters stepped up to fill the vacancy on the other side of the dance card, chief among them current lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos (whom Nurmagomedov holds a win over) and fistic embodiment of 'down for whatever,' Cerrone.

Nurmagomedov responded by asking UFC upper management to set up a fight for anybody including hitherto unmentioned former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis.

A Dos Anjos rematch seemed unlikely. Dos Anjos appeared to be angling for a fight at UFC 200 on July 9. Nurmagomedov is a devout Muslim and this year the religious month of Ramadan lasts from June 6th to July 5 which would likely interfere with Khabib's preparation. Not to mention the UFC would be putting a man who hasn't fought in two years in a title fight. Not impossible but certainly improbable.

Cerrone became the leading candidate to replace Ferguson and yesterday he once again took to social media in an effort to secure the fight.

However, it then came out that Ferguson's injury was not as severe as previously thought and he reemerged as a possible opponent for a later date, though it has never been made clear whether Nurmagomedov, who has been out with injury for almost two full years, would be willing to wait.

Then late last night, Nurmagomedov posted to Twitter that he had accepted the fight with Cerrone only to have Cerrone withdraw due to injury a few hours later. He quickly sought to get Anthony Pettis to take the short notice fight with him.

Pettis (who happens to currently be training alongside Cerrone at Jackson-Winklejohn) has yet to respond but Cerrone did so aggressively, refuting reports of his injury which started a heated exchange via Twitter.

Whether the claims of signing contracts is posturing by one or both sides or this is merely a miscommunication between the parties and promoter remains unclear. However, as of now the official UFC webpage for the card no longer lists Nurmagomedov as fighting on the card and has bumped the Glover Texeira vs. Rashad Evans fight up to the top billing, renaming the card Texeira vs. Evans. This possibly gives credence to a theory supported by Cerrone that the UFC is eyeing re-making the Ferguson fight for May 29 at UFC Fight Night 88.

However, even if true it does not explain why Nurmagomedov was under the impression Cerrone had withdrawn due to a rib injury.

It remains to be seen what will come of all of this. One thing for certain though is that these two prizefighters have been circling each other for quite awhile now, having originally been slated to fight in a title eliminator at UFC 187 last May. If history has taught us anything it's that verbal warfare often turns into actual fisticuffs so perhaps this little dust up will be the thing that finally sets the two on a collision course.

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5 MUST-READ STORIES

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Unexpected Opponent. Miesha Tate is set to defend her belt against Amanda Nunes at UFC 200. Perhaps they are setting up the Rousey-Holm rematch for an interim title?

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TUF to keep watching. The UFC announced the full roster of fighters for The Ultimate Fighter 23, coached by Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Claudia Gadelha.

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Sorry for the delay folks. Tony Ferguson's manager says his fighter will be fine, is eyeing a May return, and hopes Khabib will wait for him.

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Low expectations. After failing in just three seconds her first time, Felice Herrig is set to compete on American Ninja Warrior for a second go around.

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Sacrifice. Ovince Saint Preux says he was at a fast food chain when he got the call to fight Jon Jones.

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EXTRA CREDIT READING

***These are pieces that aren't essential news but I found enjoyable or otherwise interesting. They may be op-eds, fanposts, or articles from around the internet. I may also occasionally (and shamelessly) shill my own work from SBNation site BloodyElbow.

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Warlords. What are they good for? Promoting MMA apparently. Felix Biederman of Vocativ reports on Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov (a man whom Fabricio Werdum posted in support of just a few days ago) and his relationship with MMA.

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Right call? On Bleacher Report Chad Dundas and Jonathan Snowden debate whether the UFC and Jon Jones made the right call in putting together the short notice Ovince Saint Preux fight.

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MEDIA STEW

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DC put in an appearance on UFC Tonight to discuss his injury and Jon Jones.

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Basically this exact same interview happened multiple times yesterday and in each of them you really get the feeling that these guys hate each other. Not the same way that Jon Jones seems to revel in his hatred of Daniel Cormier but still.

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Dan Henderson out here throwing daggers at Lyoto Machida. H-bomb soon to follow.

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Former WBO Cruiserweight title holder Johnny Nelson talks about the McGregor vs. Diaz rematch.

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Hard to get better analysis than Firas Zahabi.

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LONG WATCHES

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Press Row with Jordan Breen.

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Heavy Hands with Connor Ruebusch & Patrick Wyman

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Bushido Talk

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TWEETS

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The UFC going to Croatia without Cro Cop hurts my heart.

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Bellator was so unbelievably close to having a true fiasco on their hands.

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Yoel Romero fires back at Bisping's tweet from yesterday.

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Jon Jones is absolutely enormous. Just look at him. Alistair Overeem and Yoel Romero are by no means small men.

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Khabib Who Wrestles Bears needs to fight somebody, anybody, soon. I don't particularly care who.

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Well worth your time to go through the UFC Twitter timeline and watch all of Derrick Lewis's answers.

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Says a lot about Rory MacDonald that the picture of him where he looks the least like a serial killer is one where he is wearing a face mask and holding a gun.

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Ben Askren not being in the UFC is just a terrible shame

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I don't know where this weird, insane dark lord Ben Rothwell came from but he is a delight.

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In response to this post the UFC reposted from Anthony Pettis:

Nate Diaz threw some low key shade.

(And yes I did just post my own tweet. I know no shame.)

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Brandon Gibson leaves the gym for one day and suddenly Jon Jones is training in what appear to be pajama pants.

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FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

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Announced yesterday (April 6, 2016)

Miesha Tate (18-5-0) vs. Amanda Nunes (12-4-0); UFC 200, July 9 (135 lb. Championship)

Micah Miller (19-8-1) vs. Alan Arzeno (7-6-0); Titan FC 38, April 30

Livia Renata Souza (9-0-0) vs. Angela Hill (4-2-0); Invicta 17, May 7 (115 lb. Championship)

Mizuki Inoue (11-4-0) vs. Aline Serio (9-5-0); Invicta 17, May 7

Charmaine Tweet (8-5-0) vs. Latoya Walker (5-0-0); Invicta 17, May 7

Tessa Simpson (4-1-0) vs. Julia Jones (4-0-0); Invicta 17, May 7

Megan Anderson (5-2-0) vs. Amanda Bell (3-3-0); Invicta 17, May 7

Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke (6-0-0) vs. Yoshitaka Naito (10-0-0); One Championship 42, May 27 (115 lb Championship)

Marat Gafurov (13-0-0) vs. Kazunori Yokota (25-5-3); One Championship 42, May 27 (145 lb. Championship)

Brice Ritani-Coe (4-3-0) vs. Justin Ledet (6-0-0); Legacy 55, May 13

Damacio Page (19-10-0) vs. Ryan Hollis (11-8-0); Legacy 55, May 13

Brandon Farran (12-11-0) vs. Isaac Villanueva (10-7-0); Legacy 55, May 13

Edgar Juarez (3-3-0) vs. Alex Black (9-4-0); Legacy 55, May 13

Humberto DeLeon (7-6-0) vs. Adrian Yanez (4-1-0); Legacy 55, May 13

Manny Lozoya (1-0-0) vs. Gregg Dulani Perry (1-0-0); Legacy 55, May 13

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TODAY IN MMA HISTORY

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2007: UFC 69: Shootout took place at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. It was the promotions first foray into Texas and was headlined by Matt Serra defeating Georges St-Pierre by 1st round TKO for the UFC welterweight championship in one of the biggest upsets in MMA history.

UFC 69 also featured a lightweight contest between Roger Huerta vs. Leonard Garcia which Huerta won by unanimous decision. A photo of Huerta from the fight resulted in him becoming the first MMA fighter to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

At the event Dana White also announced the signing of former Pride heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera.

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1995: UFC 5: The Return of the Beast was held at the Independence Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina. The event was headlined by a superfight between Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie which was intended to determine the first ever UFC champion; however, the fight ended in a draw and no champion was crowned.

Dan Severn won the 8-man tournament that evening defeating Dave Beneteau by keylock in the finals.

This event also marked the last time Royce Gracie would fight for the promotion until his one-off return 11 years later at UFC 60.

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1987: Standout Bellator welterweight Michael Page was born.

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Think I missed a spot? Found something you'd like to see in the Morning Report? Just hit me up on Twitter @JedKMeshew and we'll include it in tomorrow's column.

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